Hi Norman,

> One of the things which has emerged is the importance of producing
> photographs in RAW in order to get as much information as possible for
> processing. For me, this means finding and purchasing another camera and
> I wonder if anybody could suggest a good starting point for me to find
> what I need. I have tried Google but have not found the sort of
> information I think I need. I have just two criteria, the camera must be
> light and easy to handle (a bit shaky due to age and arthritis) and
> shoot in RAW. All suggestions gratefully received.

I started photography with Minolta DiMAGE 7i, that is "DSLR" with 
electronic view finder. It is good camera and still working since 2003, 
but it's ability shoot is quite bad I was never able to correctly 
process RAW files from it (using dcraw+gimp). So I was using TIFF 
option. Several examples of photos:
Good thing on EVF is live histogram, warning before slow shutter speed. 
Bad thing is deep of field and resolution of EVF - it is hard to use 
polarizing filter. Not on sky, but on ground, leafs - on those objects 
its hard to see efect.

Now I'm using Nikon D70 for 2 years and I'm very satisfied with it. It's 
big enought to fit in my hands, Canon 300D or even 350D is too small for 
me, Canon 5D was fitting excellent in my hands but it is heavy and was 
quite expensive. Two years back was Nikon D70 + 18-70mm lenses best 
choice for me. Camera and lenses weight about 1200g, that is in my 
option better than light cameras like that Minolta which is about 400g. 
I'm able to hold longer exposure times with Nikon. You should visit some 
shop and try to hold and use some cameras there, another option is to 
try some local photographs and try to play with their equipment.

Shooting in RAW is just same as into JPEG on Nikon, saving to memory 
card is done in background, but because of bigger size of file camera's 
buffer is able to hold only 2-3 images and after that you have to wait.

Gimp have limitation on 8bit per color channel, that is shame because 
cameras are usualy producing 12bit. Other software like Adobe 
Photohoshop is able to work in 16bit, but that adds another expences to 
your hobby.

I'm using Gimp with combination of ufraw-gimp plugin. That plugin 
duplicate some Gimp's features like Curves and Levels to overcome Gimp's 
8bit limitation. I usually do exposure and white balance corrections in 
ufraw-gimp and rest of work I finish in Gimp itself.

You can check prety long list of ufraw supported cameras:
and see ufraw user interface:

If you are interested you can see some my photos from D70 online:
texts are only in Czech.

I'm very satisfied with Nikon D70 as camera and I'm more than happy from 
existence of Gimp which is in combination with ufraw excellent tool for 
processing my amateur photos. For me is essential that this combination 
works perfectly on Linux.

One warning at end: Beware of dust in DSLR! This year I was on holidays 
on desert in Slowinsky park in Poland and in final I ended with 
scratches on my CCD sensor which need to be replaced, cost were about 
3000CZK and almost one month without camera. It is quite big 
disappointment to me. In photo-service I was discussing this problem and 
they say that only camera they didn't had there for sensor cleaning are 
Olympus - they are using sort of electrostatic cleaning. But Oly is 
using crop factor 2 and 4:3 format, I do not like both features, I hope 
Nikon will come with some solution of this problem soon.

Best regards
Jan Tomasek aka Semik
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